Hindsight 2020: An Unexpected Year

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I like the concept of journaling.  A place to store a collection of memories that can help you reminisce in future times.  I wanted to make sure 2020 was a year I could never forget.  This year came with a lot of lessons, challenges, and memories.   

January

2020 started off with a bang.  It was the first New Year’s Eve that I went out to a bar in New York City.  I’ve always loved hosting, so my boyfriend & I had our friends over for a pregame.  The atmosphere of the room was busy filled with chatter and laughter.   To honor the start of the ’20s, I wore a flapper-style dress.  New Year’s Eve is a perfect picture of how clueless we were as to what was coming next.  

I decided to spend most of January focusing on self-care and not going out.  In 2019, I started making a list of all of the restaurants and bars I wanted to go to.  I had read about some really cool ones and was going to make 2020 the year to explore the city I’ve always loved. 

Silver Lining: My list has only grown during the pandemic and I will never have a night questioning what bar or restaurant I should go to ever again.

February

The start of February meant the beginning of a long distance relationship with my boyfriend.  He decided to move home for a few months to focus on his freelance writing career and then come back to the city in June.  We could not have anticipated that our time apart would be extended due to a global pandemic.

February was the last month I went out dancing.  During Covid, there are a lot of aspects of “normal” life that I have missed.  Most of them have bandaid fixes or replacements until the world is safe again and you can experience the real deal.  There is no bandaid fix for dancing in a bar.  I miss it and I am looking forward to doing it again, even though I suspect it may not be for a very long time.

Silver Lining: My dancing sadness is nothing compared to the real hardships most people are going through during this time.

March

The month it all changed.  The start of our new normal.  March was the month that working from home full-time started.  My coworkers and I packed our bags thinking we would have to go into the office once a week, made jokes about seeing each other in two weeks, and left for the weekend.  9 months later, I look back and laugh at how silly we were.  How naive we were.

I am thankful my boyfriend visited me the first weekend in March.  We filled our weekend with a lot of our favorite city spots.  He was feeling a little under the weather at the end of his visit.  When I got sick, my first thought was to go home and have my mom take care of me.  Hindsight is 2020.  This was a mistake.  It will be the last time that I ever leave the comfort of my own home to go and infect my parents.  

Silver Lining: Thankfully, we are all still healthy today.   

April

After being home with my parents for a few weeks, my younger sister came home from college! Her presence was, and always is, a great addition to our house.  It is weird for me to be in my childhood home without a sister there, too.  April is the first month that Covid affected an event in my life.  We had to host Passover virtually this year.  In my house, Passover is the holiday with most family.  We have close to 30 guests every year, except this one.  

April also brought another big Covid change.  One month after working from home full-time, I was furloughed from my job.  I want to say, I am very grateful to have a job now, but I loved being furloughed.  I have not had a time that was my own for as long as I can remember.  I went to school and camp.  When I was too old to go to Summer camp, I had an internship.  After that, I started my first full-time job one month after college graduation.  Being furloughed gave me the opportunity to explore my hobbies while not being stressed about finding a job because I technically still had one.  

Silver Lining: Being furloughed and having time for myself, even though I did not know it at the time.

May

May was the month I started cooking intensely.  I made very elaborate meals every day for dinner because I had the time to dedicate to them.   Cooking my way through cookbooks has helped me use different skills and gain more experience in the kitchen.  If you are going to invest in a cookbook, I would start with Ina Garten.  Her dishes are delicious.  

May brought my family’s second event that was altered by the pandemic.  Some birthdays are more important than others and there was no way I was letting my sister’s 21 birthday slip by without planning something fun.  We created an “Around the World” party in our house.  Starting outside in NYC, we ate hot dogs & nuts while drinking cosmopolitans.  We then flew to Russia where we had White Russians and cookies baked by my sister’s Russian best friend. 

There was a layover in London and a ferry to Ireland where we enjoyed some green apple Jell-O shots and a bowl of raw potatoes.  Our adventure continued to my favorite country, Spain, where we drank Sangria and ate Lemon-Raspberry cupcakes my mom baked.  After another layover, this time in China, and a ferry to Japan, we enjoyed our Sake bombs, Mochi & Japanese cookies. 

We flew back to the USA to go to Hawaii where we drank Pina Coladas and Vanilla Bean cupcakes that my mom decorated to look like the beach.  Lastly, we ended our night in Mexico where we enjoyed chips & salsa, Margaritas, and a corona (fitting right?).  Each room had a drink, a snack, and a friend on video chat.  While our night was a lot of fun, I am looking forward to the day that we can go out to a real bar together.  

Silver Lining: We created a memory that none of us will ever forget.

June

June’s hobby was DIY projects.  I bought myself a sander and worked on refinishing a dining room table.  I learned a lot.  There are different types of DIY projects.  Some are small and some are big.  When you start a new hobby, start small… I did not do this.  My DIY projects that followed this dining room table were all small projects and they all turned out better.

June also brought me the first time I could leave the house.  In June, I was cleared to visit my boyfriend in Massachusetts! I got tested before I went to his house, but after three months, we could not wait any longer.  

Silver Lining: Distance makes the heart grow fonder.  

July

Introducing Lentil & Barley, the cutest rescue puppies that ever did live.  I take full credit for their names.  Lentil is my sister and brother-in-law’s puppy.  She is the sweetest, softest, slobberiest puppy.  Her favorite hobbies include eating, doing tricks for a treat, and generally hanging out inside.  Once inside, Lentil loves to cuddle.  Lentil joined our family a few weeks before Barley. 

Barley is the most energetic, smartest, cuddliest puppy.  Her favorite hobbies include running around the house like there is an obstacle course, sitting on top of the couch behind your head, and licking your face.  She is afraid of trucks and loves to bark at balloons and vacuums.  When together, Lentil and Barley are the most dynamic duo.  They love to play and run around.  

While I was sad to leave Barley, I was so excited to go on a social distanced vacation to Maine.  With my boyfriend and his parents, we drove to a lake house on Sebago Lake.  The architecture of this house was gorgeous.  The view of the lake was incredible and relaxing.  The change of scenery was wonderful for our mental health.  

Silver Lining: Our Maine vacation.  It was perfect.  

August

Peridot is my birthstone which means I had a birthday this month.  My boyfriend came down to celebrate and we ordered in dinner from a fancy steakhouse.  My brother-in-law and sister surprised me with some gifts and delicious homemade smores’ cheesecake.  My boyfriend baked me a red velvet cake AND my mom baked me tiramisu.  You could say it was a sweet birthday.      

August came and my furlough ended.  Time to go back to work,  but thankful to still have a job.  There was a lot to learn about what happened while we were on furlough.  

Silver Lining:  The pandemic created a lot of projects at work which opened up a lot of opportunities for me.

September

Not going to lie, September was a tough month for me.  No visits from my boyfriend.  My sister moved back to college and my best friend moved out of our hometown.  

Silver Lining:  My older sister and brother-in-law let me stay at their house for a few days.  It felt like we were back in the old times when I would sleep on the couch in their apartment, except now I was upgraded to a bed.  There is nothing better to brighten your days than knowing people are there to support you.  

October

October was a month filled with risk-taking.  We spent the first weekend in the Catskills with my boyfriend and his friends.  We went hiking, played games, talked, and acted like a pandemic was not happening.  It was nice to forget for a little while.

After our weekend adventure, we spent the next month exploring Philadelphia.  My boyfriend and I were tired of being long distance and both needed a change of scenery.  We went out on dinner dates to exquisite restaurants, caught up with some friends, and enjoyed spending time together.  

Silver Lining: Neither of us caught Covid.   

November

Socializing after not socializing for months takes effort.  When November rolled around, I was excited and ready to go back home.  I took a week to be lazy and recover from my adventure.    

Thanksgiving looked different this year.  Since there was a spike in COVID, our pod got smaller.  We started social distancing with my sister and brother-in-law.  We ate some Thanksgiving appetizers on my front porch, then sat and watched a movie before eating the big meal.  

Silver Lining:  I have always wanted to cook a turkey, because I love turkey, and never had the opportunity since we always go to my cousin’s for Thanksgiving.  Even though I am excited to go back to our normal Thanksgiving traditions,  I am questioning if there is a second time of the year where a turkey may be warranted.  Since I love it so much, why do I eat it only once a year? Food for thought.  

December

The end of 2020.  My sister graduated from college and moved back home setting up a sweet start to the new year for me.  I got tested again and was able to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve with my boyfriend and his parents.  We baked Christmas cookies, drank eggnog, and enjoyed some family zooms.  I am really looking forward to our New Year’s Eve filled with international appetizers and spicy margaritas.  

Silver Lining: We never would have put the time and effort to create our international feast if we were able to leave the house.  

2020

After this long, hard year, we are still smiling and ready to have a fun time.  I am not disputing that this year had its challenges, but the way people have come together and lived through them is truly remarkable.  Just because we cannot live the way we once did, does not mean this time needs to be wasted.  No one knows how much longer we will have to exist in a pandemic-filled world, so choose to find your opportunities, pockets filled with sunshine, and your silver linings.  On the flip side of this, you will be happier for it.

CHALLENGE: Do not waste a single day in 2021.  The time to feel sorry for ourselves should be left in 2020.